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A Certain Legacy

This morning NPR is dedicating much of its program space to remembering Ted Kennedy, who passed away this week. Comments and tributes aired from those showing their respects were terribly emotional and all had a similar message – this man spent his life helping people. Regardless of the personal and family tragedy that followed the Kennedys, the Senator never lost focus on what mattered most – communities, people, and progress.

Democrats, Republicans and Independents share a common perspective about Senator Kennedy. While known for his vigorous support of legislation dealing with human and social rights, health care, immigration, and education, he also believed in the legacy of free enterprise. He was far more than a ‘liberal’ who won accolades for championing the rights of the poor and middle class. He collaborated on a great deal of legislation authored by Republican Senate colleagues better known for their support of business. Kennedy rarely shared that spotlight. He understood the value of public policy and its relation to commerce. He was all about jobs, small business, and economic development; he merely chose to speak out most often about what was his most enduring value – helping those who cannot help themselves. Whether school children, immigrants, or the homeless, Ted Kennedy cared and it showed.

I would imagine that, for many readers a great deal of their lives is devoted to the concept of Legacy and preparing for an uncertain and challenging future. I believe the Senator embraced the highest ideals of the Common Interest – creating a nation and society that cares, shares, and reaches out. This cannot be done without sacrifice and without an understanding that every community must take care of its own. More than ever, our focus must be balanced between social fabric and economic development. Senator Kennedy had an innate sense of this and was a master – probably the greatest– at seeking balance.

 I feel a great loss. One’s political affiliations matter little at times like this. We all lost a champion and a voice for reason. I am unsure how much balance will be lost in the Senate. But I do believe that Kennedy’s spirit and commitment to themes central to social progress and well being will endure. Whatever your viewpoint, I encourage some introspection about what he stood for, and some reflection about how we can all make our communities stronger, more cohesive, and better prepared for what lies ahead.



With over three decades working in and with federal, state and local government, John Luthy understands public agencies.  Known for his real world, straight talking style, he is a leading futurist specializing in city, county, state, and federal long-range thinking and planning. An innovative and dynamic presenter, John is frequently asked to speak and consult on how to prepare public organizations and communities for emerging challenges. He holds both the MPH and MPA degrees as well as a doctorate in education.  www.futurescorp.com  (public futures)

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